[Tibeto-burman-linguistics] workshop at ICHL24: TB material culture (abstracts due 12 October!)

Mark W. Post markwpost at gmail.com
Tue Oct 2 04:02:52 UTC 2018

Dear Colleagues,

Please see the below announcement for a workshop on "bottom-up" 
reconstruction of TB material culture targeting mid-level subgroups to 
be co-organized by Gwendolyn Hyslop, Yankee Modi and Mark W Post at the 
24th International Conference on Historical Linguistics at ANU in 
Canberra next year. Note that ICHL24 takes place between July 1-5, 2019, 
directly following a week of ICSTLL/HLS in Sydney. We invite submissions 
which, unfortunately, need to be in very early and very quickly - 
October 12!! Please see below for further details and instructions.


Workshop Title:

Bottom up and archaeobotanical approaches to reconstructable 
Tibeto-Burman material culture


Historical linguistic methods can yield useful insights regarding 
population prehistories. For example, Mallory (1991) argues that we can 
attribute stockbreeding to speakers of Proto-Indo-European based in part 
on the fact that forms for ‘sheep’, ‘cattle’, ‘goat’ and ‘pig’ can be 
reconstructed to the proto-language. In the Austronesian world, Blust 
(1995) reconstructs words for ‘typhoon’ and ‘snow; ice; frost’ for 
Proto-Austronesian, suggesting that the people who spoke the proto 
language lived in an environment where there were typhoons and snow, ice 
or frost (fitting the picture for Taiwan). A considerable amount can 
also be inferred about Proto-Austronesian speakers’ economy. For 
instance, Blust (1995) shows that this culture was most likely familiar 
with rice agriculture, based on his reconstruction of words for ‘paddy’, 
‘harvested rice’ and ‘cooked rice’. In addition, Blust also reconstructs 
exploitation of several millet species, as well as root crops (such as 
wild taro),  tree crops, domesticated animals, means by which animals 
were captured (hunting and fishing), and aspects of food preparation, 
tools and implements, settlements and housing, clothing, music, social 
organisation, disease and death, and the spirit world. The aim in this 
workshop is to apply these methods to the Tibeto-Burman-speaking world, 
using a “bottom-up” approach which focuses on the subgroup level.

There has been some work in this area within Tibeto-Burman. Bradley 
(1997), for example, argues that eight different crops (rice, panicum 
millet, foxtail millet, sorghum, buckwheat, barley, wheat, Job’s tears) 
reconstruct to Proto Burmic, spoken perhaps four thousand years ago. At 
the same time, this reconstruction could be read as conflicting with 
archaeobotanical findings which suggest that not all these crops would 
have been in use at the same time at that time depth (e.g. 
D’Alpoim-Guedes et al. 2014). Recent advances in the fields of 
archaeobotany and language documentation now mean that we can take new 
data from previously under-studied subgroups, and by examining what 
might reconstruct at lower and more confident levels, develop a more 
nuanced and empirically better-supported account of Tibeto-Burman 

This workshop this aims to advance hypotheses concerning linguistically 
reconstructable aspects of early Tibeto-Burman material culture and 
environmental economy by focusing closely on the subgroup level. This 
workshop welcomes all recontributions that are aimed at reconstructing 
lexicon at the subgroup level, dealing with flora, fauna, productive 
economy (agriculture, hunting, foraging, artefacts and their 
construction) and any other features that will contribute to a nuanced 
characterisation of early Tibeto-Burman speaking cultures.


Blust, Robert. 1995. The Prehistory of the Austronesian-Speaking 
Peoples: A View from Language. Journal of World Prehistory 9(4): 

Bradley, David. 1997. What Did They Eat? Grain Crops in the Burmic 
Groups. Mon-Khmer Studies 27: 161–70.

d’Alpoim Guedes, Jade, Hongliang Lu, Yongxian Li, Robert N. Spengler, 
Xiaohong Wu, and Mark S. Aldenderfer. 2014 Moving Agriculture onto the 
Tibetan Plateau: The Archaeobotanical Evidence. Archaeological and 
Anthropological Sciences 6 (3): 255–69. doi:10.1007/s12520-013-0153-4.

Hyslop, Gwendolyn. 2015. Emergent insights into Proto-East-Bodish 
agricultural economy. In eds. Mark W Post, Stephen Morey, and Scott 
DeLancey Language and culture in Northeast India: In honor of Robbins 
Burling, 276-288. Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics.

Mallory, J. 1991. In Search of the Indo-Europeans : Language, 
Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames and Hudson.

Call for papers:

We invite abstracts that deal with data from low level sub-groups within 
Tibeto-Burman and their resultant reconstructions. We are especially 
interested in papers that will address the reconstruction of 
archaeobotanical knowledge (such as grains and their cultivation 
processes) but also welcome papers that address other topics, such as 
environment, farming practices, or other aspects of tangible and 
intangible culture. Accepted participants will be allotted 20 minutes to 
present and 10 minutes allocated for discussion, including commentary 
from non-Linguistic specialists of other fields. Abstracts should be no 
more than one page with 12pt font, and can include a second page for 
references. For more details about the conference and workshop, please 
refer to: http://www.dynamicsoflanguage.edu.au/ichl24/workshops/ 
<http://www.dynamicsoflanguage.edu.au/ichl24/workshops/>. Abstracts may 
be submitted here: 
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